How's A Roller Coaster Work?
How Does It Move?
It's actually pretty easy. There is a big chain called the 'Lift Chain', and a train of cars. To get the coaster uphill, it uses the Lift Chain to pull itself up. When it gets to the top, it just lets go, and the heavy train pulls itself down using Gravity. Sometimes it is more complicated for bigger roller coasters, but it is usually something close to this.
|Gravity - The natural force of attraction exerted by a celestial body, such as Earth, upon objects at or near its surface, tending to draw them toward the center of the body.
Clutch - Any of various devices for engaging and disengaging two working parts of a shaft or of a shaft and a driving mechanism.
Fun Fact: The train cars on a roller coaster usually have at least 96 wheels that hold it on the track.
What Keeps Them From Rolling Back Down The Hill?
Each car has a Clutch attached to the bottom, backside of it. This clutch is used to attach the car to the Lift Chain, and also helps keep the cars from rolling backwards. If the Lift Chain stops while the train is moving uphill, the clutch will automatically stop and hold the cars right there. Thank goodness for that!
Fun Fact: Roller coaster cars can weigh from 1,200 to 4,000 pounds - and that's even before any people get into it!
The Clutch On A Roller Coaster
Why Doesn't A Roller Coaster Fly Off Its Track?
Actually, they can come off the track! When a roller coaster needs to be worked on, the trains have to come off the track. So, are roller coasters safe? Yep. The only place the train can come off of its track is near the main station (where you wait in line, and get on). Then you have to take out a section of the track, and unhook the cars from each other.
Fun Fact: In cold parts of the world, many roller coaster cars are taken off their track every winter.
Don't The Trains Ever Hit Each Other?
Block System Computer
Nope. Every roller coaster is run by a computer (some are more complicated than others). To keep the trains from crashing into each other, a 'Block System' is used. You tell the computer what 'Blocks' or areas of the track each train will move in, and the computer tells each train when to go.
Roller Coasters are very fun to ride. We thought they were pretty interesting, and thought we'd show you how they work. Next time you go riding one of these huge machines, you'll know how it works!